Function Over Form: Mounting External SSD On MacBook

Here is an awesome MacGyver1 solution for expanding MacBook storage.

MacBook Pro with External SSD

Problem

I use Lightroom CC for editing my photos, so I need to have them on my computer during editing. Currently, my library consists of 20K RAW photos, which takes 350GB of storage. My MacBook Pro comes with 256GB internal SSD, so it can’t store my library.

Lightroom doesn’t perform well with NAS storage, cloud sync is slow and causes high CPU usage, cached image previews are also not enough for me. Since Apple sell their MacBooks with soldered storage devices, there is no option to expand the storage. The only reasonable solution is external SSD drive.

Carrying the laptop with external drive connected around the house is a challenge. I want to move my laptop across different surfaces without disconnecting the external drive. When I am working on a couch, there is no place to store the drive safely. It also gets disconnected easily.

Solution

Mount external SSD on the back of my laptop with self adhesive velcro tape.

I was watching Silicon Valley and I noticed that Richard Hendricks had a MacBook with a dongle sticked to the back. This is where I got the idea! It’s nothing new or unique, but I never stumbled on it.

MacBook Pro with External SSD

Process

Cut the velcro tape to required length. MacBook Pro with External SSD

Stick the rough side velcro on the external drive, soft side on the laptop. MacBook Pro with External SSD

Join both velcro sides together. MacBook Pro with External SSD

Profit! MacBook Pro with External SSD

Gear Used

Computer: MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2019). If your laptop comes with swappable storage or extra drive bays, then you’re in luck.

Drive: Samsung T5 1TB. I like the drive a lot: it’s light, small, fast and reliable. Currently there is a new Samsung T7 model worth checking out.

Cable: EasyAcc USB-C to USB-C 10Gbps (20 cm). Default Samsung T5 cable is not flexible enough and too long for this to comfortably work.

Tape: Sunriz Self-Adhesive Velcro Tape, (20 mm Wide). I guess any other brand would do the job.

Function Over Form

I posted this solution to r/techsupportmacgyver, r/macbookpro and r/laptops on Reddit. I was surprised that so many people reacted to it.

It was interesting to see that it sparked a lot of discussion about function over form. People on r/macbookpro were more sceptical than r/techsupportmacgyver or r/laptops, but most people had positive reactions. This thread illustrates it perfectly:

MacBook Pro with External SSD

I can only agree. Function over form, not vice versa. We should use our devices to do real work, not treat them like jewellery.

Discussion

Notes

  1. Character and the protagonist in the TV series MacGyver. Urban Dictionary describes it the best: “the ability to use a dorito, some duct tape, and a paper clip to create a time machine”. 

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